Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Tourist in Los Angeles
Los Angeles looks so strange after being in India.
Freeways 4-5 lanes wide in each direction... no rickshaws. Grocery stores laden with packaged and canned goods... no open sacks of grain, pyramids of mangos.
Tonight I found myself with friends at the Hollywood Bowl watching the LA Philharmonic in the open air... air that is comfortably warm and dry rather than sending rivulets of sweat down my torso.
There's no chance it will rain--that's why we have outdoor concerts in the summer and fall.
Strangest of all are the three emblems flanking the stage: a large American flag, California flag, and in the distance a neon white cross on the hillside above some church.
I don't remember seeing the flag of India displayed on Taj Mahal or the other splendid historic buildings we visited. Maybe it was there and I didn't notice.
Here it seems hyper-patriotic to preface a classical concert with a singing of the national anthem and to make sure these huge flags are on display.
The white neon cross visible from my seat reminds me that I am in a Christian nation again--the mosques and Hindu temples have vanished. Christianity may not be the official state religion, but it comes close.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Paul Dukas begins the program, reminding me that I am in Hollywood with the Disney Studios nearby. As the familiar music echoes through the amphitheatre, scenes of Mickey Mouse dancing with brooms in Fantasia come to mind, reminding me of when I first saw them at age ten in Boulder.
I am back in a culture I know well, but it all seems strange.